When I make these Italian sliders for a crowd I shape my meatball mixture into a loaf and bake as I would a meatloaf; it makes for easy slider size cutting.
I first made these sliders for a picnic birthday-celebration. It was easy to plan and organize; just prepare the marinara sauce a couple days ahead, it is an ingredient used while preparing the meatloaf. Make the meatloaf a day ahead, and the morning of, grate the cheeses, cut slider size portions of both meat and bread…tada, all ready to assemble fresh, when needed.
Note: these sliders were easy to transport to our picnic destination and fun and easy to assemble, but a slider party at home, indoors or out is just as fun!
Anyway, for the picnic, I used a small propane grill (easy to transport) to warm the sauce while toasting the bread before layering on the remaining ingredients. The sliders were oozing with marinara and melting cheese; they were a delicious, memorable, picnic crowd-pleaser from the first bite to the last.
20-24, sliders, approx 3-1/2 to 4 inch squares
MARINARA – make two days before party, is needed to prepare the meatloaf
1-28 ounce can crushed plum tomatoes w/basil
2 tablespoons tomato paste – I like to use the Sundried paste in a tube by Amore
6-8 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
A bottle of red wine on hand
MEATLOAF – make and refrigerate one day before party
3 ounces torn bread
1/2 cup coarsely chopped sweet onion
Smashed garlic; 4 cloves or to your taste
6 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup micro-plane grated Pecorino Romano
4 thin slices prosciutto
1/4 cup marinara sauce
1 egg lightly beaten
8 grinds fresh pepper – or to your taste
1 lb 85% ground beef
1-lb ground pork
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO ASSEMBLE SLIDERS
3 cups of marinara sauce - warmed
20-24 slider sized cut grilled or toasted Ciabatta bread
Extra virgin olive oil on hand
16 oz shredded mozzarella
1 cup micro-plane grated Pecorino Romano mixed in with the mozzarella
Slider size cut meatloaf slices
In This Recipe
In a 4 quart Dutch oven add the first 6 ingredients and simmer for at least 2 hours; wait for the sauce to start releasing a wonderful aroma throughout your kitchen. Keep slices of bread close by for sauce testing, a bottle of your favorite red wine for adding a little moisture to the sauce, if needed…and for sipping too!
Break up the bread and place in a food processor; pulse about 10 times to break it down into large crumbs.
Add the onion, garlic and parsley, pulse to combine and break the crumbs smaller.
Add the pecorino and prosciutto, pulse all ingredients down to very fine crumbs.
Transfer the crumb mixture to large bowl, add the egg, marinara sauce and ground pepper; stir to combine and let stand for 5 minutes. NOTE: I don’t add salt because the Pecorino adds enough.
Combine the ground beef and pork with the crumb mixture, toss with your hands to incorporate all ingredients.
The mixture must feel moist, (slightly sticky) and be able to hold together; add 1 tablespoon of water at a time if you feel it needs more moisture.
Gently shape the meat into a rectangle sized loaf = a flat top loaf.
Place onto a broiler pan, which has been prepared with cooking spray.
Spread a coating of marinara sauce over top of the meat loaf.
Bake at 350° for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, until a thermometer registers 160°.
Let loaf cool and then refrigerate overnight.
To pre-cut, slice through the middle of the loaf lengthwise, and then make slider sized cuts horizontally.
Heat the sauce to room temperature, then turn off the heat.
Moisten the insides of the bread, which has been pre-cut slider size, with olive oil; toast up golden brown on a grill or fry pan.
Add a medium sized dollop of marinara sauce to both top and bottom of the bread.
Sprinkle top and bottom with the mozzarella mixture.
Add a slice of the meatloaf then squish it together and enjoy.